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Cooper construction pays attention to detail

Kraus Anderson’s Paul Noll leads a tour through the new Cooper Elementary School in Superior on Wednesday afternoon. Jed Carlson / 1 / 12
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Even in the throes of construction, special features give the new Cooper Elementary School a personality all its own. Design details include a sky bridge spanning the gymnasium and cafeteria, and a prairie-inspired color palette.

Ridged tiles line the walls of the kitchen serving room. Windows flood stairways with light. In-floor heating will allow teachers on the main floor to use all available space; the second-floor wings include large group commons areas for students to gather.

The exterior also sports a custom design. The top third of the structure features cement board siding similar to that found on homes in the neighborhood.

The project involves 38 contractors, with about 60 workers on site consistently. Project Manager Paul Noll with Kraus-Anderson Construction has planning set months in advance.

Installation of the hydraulic elevator is expected to begin Feb. 12 and should take about two weeks, he said.

Lockers are coming March 1 and the masonry should be completed by mid-March.

Work on the gym flooring is expected to begin March 19. The space will include six basketball hoops — four fixed, two motorized — and can be partitioned into three different volleyball courts.

Teachers should get their first tour of the space the week of March 19, as well.

Noll said he aims to turn the administration area over to the district in early June. The rest of the building will be ready for classes in September, although teachers will be moving in earlier.

"We're shooting for them to have the whole month of August," Noll said.

The biggest time crunch the Cooper project will run into comes after school lets out for the summer and demolition of the old school begins. It's critical to get the north end of the building down quickly the new bus drop off area and parking lots can be built, Noll said. He hopes to swing the wrecking ball by June 13.

In addition to being on time, the project is currently under budget, Noll said.

No fireproof spray was needed because all the material used to build the school is noncombustible. Switching from a touch screen to a key panel for the motorized basketball hoops shaved $1,000 off construction costs. Switching from terrazzo to a less expensive flooring will save another $150,000.

"We're being conscious of the taxpayer dollar," Noll said.

The $92.5 million building referendum approved by voters in 2016 covered the Cooper project, renovation of Superior High School, and security, roof and parking upgrades at other district properties. Saving money on the Cooper project equals more dollars for ongoing construction at Superior High School, Noll said.